Doing supersets circuits is a good way to get a quick but extremely effective gym workout in. You are performing more work in less time, which is great for building muscle. I’ve found my arms respond really well to superset workouts. They burn-out and get great definition, especially when combined with my pre-and post-workout shakes consisting of high-quality whey protein. Supersets are a set of 2 exercises done with a heavier weight back to back without rest, for a certain amount of reps and sets. You generally rest 1 minute to 90 seconds between sets. You want to limit rest in order to maximize your muscle utilization.
There’s a variety of supersets you can do. And you can do multiple types in one workout.
Antagonist Supersets: This is when you pair opposite muscle groups into a superset. For example: biceps and triceps, chest and back, quads and hamstrings. These are great because you stretch and loosen one muscle group as the antagonist/opposite contracts. (i.e. when the biceps are contracting, the triceps are relaxed.)
Compound/Agonist Supersets: This is the opposite of antagonist, and you are pairing 2 exercises of the same muscle group together. For example: chest exercises of bench press and dumbbell flyes, or quad exercises of leg extensions and squats. These are great for maxing out/burning out a muscle. These can also be intense for amateur weight lifters since heavier weight is generally used for supersets.
Unconventional Supersets: These are using 2 exercises that work completely different muscle groups. For example: triceps and back, quads and calves, biceps and chest. This is ideal if you’re new to supersets or weight training. It will still save you time and allow for more variety in your workout.
Now, if you really want to get technical with your supersets you can also try the following methods of supersets:
Pre-Exhaustions Sets: This is where you do an isolated movement of a muscle group followed by a more compound exercise. You exhaust the muscle with an isolated movement (i.e. leg extensions) and then work it hard with a compound movement (i.e. squats). Expect to feel like a sally with this one, because your muscle will already be pretty tired by the time you get to the compound movement. But this method is very effective for shaping muscle.
Post-Exhaustion Sets: This is the opposite of pre-exhaustion sets, and you start with a compound movement (i.e. squats, bench press) followed by an isolation movement. This is a tough method because your muscle fibers are completely worked to the max when you finish with an isolated movement.
Compound Sets: This is when you perform 2 compound movements of the same muscle group (i.e. bench press and incline bench press). This is recommended only for those who have experience with lifting a lot of weight. Remember, you’re dealing with a heavier weight, and doing 2 big movements back to back on the same muscle group is very challenging.
Isolated Sets: This is when you perform 2 isolation movements of the same muscle group (i.e. barbell bicep curls and hammer curls). These are effective because you’re doing double the work on one muscle group in a short amount of time.
Here’s a sample superset workout. These will be antagonist supersets, working different muscle groups with each different superset. Remember to use a challenging weight that will bring your muscle close to failure. If you are unsure about a movement, look it up prior to completing the workout. Form is very important for these types of workouts.
Complete 4 sets of each superset before moving onto the next. Rest 1 minute between sets/supersets.
Dumbbell Flyes – 10 reps (on incline bench)
Bent-Over Row – 10 reps (barbell overhand grip)
Full Squats – 10 reps
Stiff-Leg Deadlift – 10 reps
Weighted Tricep Dips – 10 reps (use bench and place weight on your quads)
Barbell Bicep Curls – 10 reps
Russian Twists – 15 reps (each side = 1 rep)
Leg Raises – 10 reps (decline bench or flat)
Bicycle Crunch – 30 reps (each side = 1 rep)